I am always entranced by the awakening of the earth, which for so many months has lain dormant. Birds return to my holly trees, ferns turn bright green and spread, gracefully, along my back fence, and the carefully tended gardens in the neighborhood afford me color and delicate aromas as I take my morning walk up and down the hills of Maplewood. The azaleas have just passed and the rhododendron, with its plump round flowers, has arrived in various shades of purple. I am carried back to Lukla, when I returned from Everest Base Camp, and wandered through a forest of deep red rhododendron, so miraculous in their beauty after leaving the bitter cold of high altitude. I never take this abundant new life for granted.
Many of you travelers struggle with the same frustration I have in selecting and cataloguing the huge number of photographs produced by digital cameras. True, it’s our fault. We could just press delete. But we don’t. And then there is the desire to crop, tune, and retouch each scene to perfection (in my case the vast mountain panoramas and ancient living quarters) before moving them to albums that can be enjoyed by friends and family. And so, the saga of my efforts to upload photographs continues with incremental learning spurts that keep me ever-optimistic and eager to share. I hope many of you have seen the five albums I placed on facebook. For the refreshed links, look at my April 4th blog. I am now, however, putting new albums on my home page. I have put the photos of Myanmar and Dharamsala on hold and am starting in on Ladakh and Tanzania, my most recent trips. Consistency has never held me back, but I do ask your patience. I also would like your feedback on my newest photo galleries. The link is written in large red print at the bottom of my home page. Be sure to click on each photo to enlarge, and read the captions as the adventure unfolds. More are coming!
I go to New York City a great deal, sometimes with friends, and sometimes alone. The city never ceases to amaze and tickle me. When alone I could be walking up a street in Asia, listening to languages as diverse as the faces that accompany them, and enjoying the varied garb of a cultural potpourri. If I were in another country, I’d be putting down the names of the quaint stores along the way and recording the shouts of the vendors as they ply their trade…and the conversations overheard on cell phones or in the small groups that wander with me up Eighth Avenue from Penn Station to Midtown. I see the usual brand of tourist, gawking at high buildings that are commonplace to me, and, most recently, enjoying the people lounging in chairs on the new pedestrian mall in Times Square. It’s a scream! Not only can you sit on bleachers near the TKTS booth at 47th and Broadway and eat your lunch or just people-watch, but you can also lie on your webbed chair and breathe in the exhaust fumes from the traffic on Broadway, while looking at a most unappealing bunch of stores on either side of the street. No trees—just pavement all around, and tourists taking your picture. Does that sound a bit bizarre to you? Only in America!
I’ve played my fill of concerts for the year and attended some stirring performances at Carnegie and Avery Fisher Halls. Alice Tully Hall has been refurbished and all of Lincoln Center is getting a needed facelift for its 50th anniversary. Come see it, if only to enjoy spring at one of New York City’s most beautiful spots.
I don’t want to disappoint my theater-addicted friends, so I shall end with a list of some of the wonderful plays I’ve attended this past month. My friend, Barry Hamilton, artistic director of Ruth Eckherdt Hall in St. Petersburg and his lovely wife, Ruth Klukoff, a violin teacher, attended my granddaughter Cally’s graduation party, following her graduation, Phi Beta Kappa, from Rutgers. Barry took me to God of Carnage on Broadway, the best comedy I’ve seen since August: Osage County. It was the beginning of my birthday week celebration. Phyllis Bitow, another theater buddy took me to Next to Normal, a very thoughtful, unusual musical, starring Alice Ripley. Other shows worthy of mention are: the Pulitzer prize winning Ruined by Lynn Nottage, a heart-breaking story of the treatment of women in the Congo; Eugene O’Neill’s powerful Desire Under the Elms with Brian Dennehy; Groundswell, Off-Broadway, a moving post-apartheid story from South Africa with Larry Bryggman; Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward, starring the incomparable Angela Lansbury and Christine Ebersole; Accent on Youth, a rather disappointing comedy with David Hyde Pierce; Joe Turner’s Come and Gone by August Wilson, a deeply moving production of the black experience in the first decade of the twentieth century; Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett—a superb revival starring Nathan Lane, Bill Irwin, John Goodman, and John Glover; Why Torture is Wrong and the People Who Love It by Christopher Durang, at the Public Theater; and the screamingly funny trilogy from England, The Norman Conquests by Alan Ackbourn—Table Manners, Living Together, and Round and Round the Garden. Don’t miss all three if you get to town. I thank Play-by-Play and Audience Extras for my luck in getting inexpensive tickets for most of these productions.
I started hiking a little late this season, and on my first outing managed to get thoroughly lost wandering the hills of South Mountain Reservation. I’m not good at reading maps, but could sure have used one today! It’s so nice to spend a balmy, sunny afternoon in the woods after all the rain we’ve had. Think of it…in one month I’ll be in the White Mountains.
Please let me hear from you. I want to know what you’re doing, how you’re doing, and any adventures you want to share.